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Cutting energy usage 'right thing to do,' Urbana chancellor says


Robin Kaler, associate chancellor for public affairs

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has established a goal of reducing the energy consumption of existing buildings by 10 percent over the next three years and has established a five-year target of rolling back usage to 1990 standards, consistent with the Kyoto Protocol.

The reduction is expected to save the equivalent of 300 million kilowatt-hours (kwh) of energy; it would be achieved by controlling growth, developing incentives to reduce usage, encouraging the campus community to be more energy conscious and stimulating investment in energy-saving measures.

“This is part of a broader initiative in sustainability that is consistent with our role in educating the next generation of leaders,” said Richard Herman, the chancellor of the Urbana campus. “Reducing our carbon footprint is the right thing to do. This initiative will allow us to continue down the path to sustainability, and it will allow us to invest our scarce resources on our mission-critical activities of teaching, research and public engagement.”

This week, campus Facilities and Services staff will begin changes such as nighttime shutdowns of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems and changes in air- and water-temperature settings in most buildings. The emphasis will be on reduced running times of most motor-driven equipment and eliminating historic wasteful practices such as not reducing the speed on an HVAC system during low-occupancy evening hours.

Longer-term changes include continued lighting upgrades in current buildings and aggressive renovation and replacement of inefficient HVAC systems.

Campus energy costs and usage are now increasing at a non-sustainable rate.

“If the University of Illinois is to maintain its status as one of the nation’s best public research universities, we must demonstrate the same type of leadership in sustainability that we have shown elsewhere,” Herman said.

In addition to the pledge to reduce carbon emissions and save money, the Urbana campus is conducting research aimed at identifying alternative renewable fuel sources, directing all colleges to create sustainability plans and building a campus culture that values conservation efforts.

Since 2006, the campus has been committed to constructing all buildings to LEED silver standards and purchasing EnergyStar compliant equipment. In February 2008, Herman joined other university leaders across the nation by signing the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment.